LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and the East squad cap off a big come-from-behind win to end 2014 NBA All-Star Weekend in the Big Easy
By Ryan Fox ---- @Spider_Fox87
It’s that time of the year folks, where everything in the NBA comes to a halt. Yes sir, it is All-Star Weekend down in the Big Easy, New Orleans, Louisiana. Now people will be tuning into stuff like the 3-Point and Slam Dunk contests, or check out games like the NBA Rising Stars, Celebrity Game, or even H-O-R-S-E. But it’s not All-Star Weekend without the All-Star Game.
This past Sunday marked the 64th NBA All-Star Game between the East and West. Going into Sunday night’s game, the East posted an overall record of 36-26 against the West (the 1999 All Star-Game was skipped due to the Lockout that year). However the West have won three straight All-Star games and six out of the last ten since 2004.
The East Team’s starters included Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers at point guard, Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat at shooting guard, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers each at the forward spots, and forward LeBron James of the Heat playing both forward and center. The East’s reserves were centers Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and Roy Hibbert of the Pacers, forwards Chris Bosh of the Heat and Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks, and guards John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets, and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors. On the bench for the East was Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
On the West’s side you had Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors playing the point guard, James Harden of the Houston Rockets starting at shooting guard. He takes over for Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who sat the game due to injury. Next you have Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder playing small forward, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers playing power forward, and Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves playing center. The West’s reserves were center Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, forwards LaMarcus Aldrige of the Portland Trailblazers and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks, and guards Chris Paul of the Clippers, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, and Damian Lilliard of the Trail Blazers. Because Kobe sat out, forward Anthony Davis of the hometown New Orleans Pelicans took his spot on the West Roster. On the bench for the West was Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
With the teams picked, the table was set for a highly explosive offensive performance on both sides of the court. The West won the tip off and things were under way.
In the first 2 minutes of the 1st quarter, it looked like the East was going to run away with it on and 11-2 run. They went 5-for-5 while the West kept throwing up brick after brick, going 1-for-6 (16.7%) from the field. Then it just went back and forth with each side going for the highlight reel dunks and alley-oops. West forward Blake Griffin seemed to be wowing the crowd with all 9 of his buckets being rim-rattling dunks. But the East countered with a barrage of 3-point shots, led by Carmelo Anthony, who went 3-for-5 for the quarter.
But by the end of 1st quarter, the West came out on top 42-40. Griffin led all scorers with his 18 points, West forward Kevin Durant led all players with 5 rebounds, West guard Chris Paul lead all players in assists with 5, and the East forward LeBron James lead all players in steals with 3. Carmelo Anthony, the focus of recent talks, led the East in points scored for the quarter with 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
The 2nd quarter continued on with the same high octane offense display with back-ups playing on both sides. In a teetering back-and-forth routine, both sides combined to score a combined 30 points in the first 4 ½ minutes at a tied score of 56-56 at the 7 minute 30 second mark. But then the West started to take over, going on a 13-2 run during a 2 minute 37 second time frame. New Orleans hometown player and West backup Anthony Davis contributed 8 of those 13 points during that span. Then in a flurry of explosive dunks and barrage of 3s, the West pulled away to an 89-76 halftime lead.
Going into halftime, two All-Star Game records were broken. First was the most points scored in a half with the West’s 89, surpassing the previous high mark of 88 points from the 2012 NBA All-Star Game that was set by none other than the 2012 West team. The other record was the most points scored in a half with a new high of 165 points, breaking the 157 point mark from set in the 1988 and 2012 All-Star Games. Kevin Durant led the West and all-scorers with 22 points while Blake Griffin contributed 20 points himself on 10-of-13 shooting.
Interestingly enough, Griffin’s 10 made field goals in the half actually ties an All-Star game record for most made field goals in a half set during the 1962 All-Star game by none other than the great Hall-of-Famer Wilt ‘The Silt’ Chamberlin. On the East side, Carmelo Anthony led the team with 20 points while LeBron James was second with 12 points. Outside of those 4 players, nobody else had broken into double-digit points. Rounding out first half stats, Dwight Howard grabbed the most rebounds on both sides with 8 while Chris Paul dished the most assists with 9.
Going into the 3rd quarter, the offensive display continued to unfold. However, it was the West doing most of the scoring. Time was called by the East at the 5 minute 49 second mark as the score was 117-101 in favor of the West. Then it got up to 123 to 105 in favor of the West with 4 minutes and 39 seconds left in the quarter. But when it looked like things were going to get out of hand, the East turned on the defense when it needed to the most. They were able to keep the West from scoring for 4 minutes and 18 seconds and closed the 3rd quarter out on an 18-3 run to make it 126-123 still in favor of the West.
Then the final quarter came into play as the East started to show more of a defensive prowess. They were able to regain the lead at the 10 minute 58 second mark on a layup by backup center Joakim Noah to make it 127-126. This was the East’s first lead of the game since the 10 minute 12 second mark all the way back in the 2nd quarter when they were up 48-46. From then on, it was a back-and-forth affair yet again. But at the 6 minute 44 second mark, history was made when Carmelo Anthony broke the All-Star Game record of made 3-point field goals with 7. That surpassed the former record of 6 set by former NBA guard Mark Price during the 1993 All-Star Game and then LeBron James in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game.
As the game progressed towards the end, more All-Star Game records fell. At the 2 minute 17 second mark, the All-Star record for most points scored combined in a single game (303 points back in the 1987 All-Star game) was broken with 305 points as the East took a 153-152 lead on a Kyrie Irving 3-pointer. Then at the 1 minute 41 second mark, the East broke the most points scored by a team with 156, breaking the West’s 155-point mark during the 2003 All-Star game. From that point on, the East never looked back. For the last 1 minute and 30 seconds of the game, the East then went on a 10-0 run and finished with a 163-155 victory over their West counterparts. Their 163 points scored set a new All-Star game record for most points scored by one team (both in regulation and overall) and the 318 points combined by both teams set a new high for most combined points scored in a single game. Not to mention that the combined 88 assists throughout the duration of the game also set a new All-Star Game record.
The MVP of the game was guard Kyrie Irving of the East. He finished the game with 31 points on 14-of-17 shooting and had a game high 14 assists to go with his 5 rebounds. His teammate Carmelo Anthony finished the game with 30 points, including an impressive 8-of-13 shooting from the 3-point line. LeBron James also finished the game with 22 points and had 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals to round out his stat line. The West’s Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin each had 38 points, falling just 4 points short of the record of most points scored in an NBA All-Star Game. However both Griffin’s 19 field goal made and Durant’s 17 3-point field goal attempts were both new All-Star single game records. The win snaps a 3-game winning streak by the West and gives the East a new overall record of 37-26.
Though most see the NBA All-Star game as nothing more than a glorified exhibition game, it is still a game to be played and there will be a winner and a loser. If you were a fan of defense, this was not a game for you. But if you were a fan of high scoring, fast paced, as well as big-time comebacks, this was a game to watch and a game that many NBA fans will not forget.
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